ButterflyBandit
2 years ago1,000+ Views
Feminist Elizabethan: Big Bang Sexually Objectifies Women in "Loser" and "Bae Bae"
Big Bang, a Korean boy band with five band members (G-Dragon, T.O.P, Taeyang, Daesung, and Seungri), debuted in 2006 and have been a huge success not only in South Korea but in other countries such as Japan, China, Australia and the U.S. as well (e.g., a snippet of one of their songs was used in a Pitch Perfect 2 trailer​ and they won Best Worldwide Act at the 2011 MTV Europe Music Awards). The band has recently made a comeback after a three year hiatus with the album MADE which is currently being released as singles and will later be released as a full album. So far, Big Bang has released the songs “Loser,” “Bang Bang Bang,” “Bae Bae,” “Sober,” “If You” and “We Like 2 Party.” All of the songs (as per usual for Big Bang) are catchy and likeable but there is one big downside when it comes to their new album. The music videos (MV) for “Loser” and “Bae Bae,” amongst other things, sexualize and objectify women.​

"Loser"

“Loser” (as indicated by its lyrics) is about an individual who has problems and is a self-described jackass. In the video, the “loser” theme is conveyed via five men (Big Bang’s band members) who act alternatively despondent and angry. For example, G-Dragon destroys a lamp and then curls up in a bathtub; Taeyang jumps rooftops (for no apparent reason); Seungri destroys a car mirror; Daesung is beat-up and is upset that his scarf has been ruined; and T.O.P wanders the streets in a bathrobe and clings to a half-naked girl.
The scene that stands out the most in “Loser” is when T.O.P clings to a half-naked girl. What makes this scene stand out is the fact that the woman is indoors yet she wears a white bikini and a white, one piece bathing suit/bodysuit while T.O.P, in comparison, wears two different outfits which are colorful and completely cover his body (e.g., he wears blazers, closed shirts, jeans/pants and gloves). The vast difference in these two’s wardrobes are obviously strange, and it makes one wonder, why? Why would these two be dressed so differently? Well, there is an answer and it is simple. Because the woman is a prop and a sexual object in the scene.
All the woman does in the scene with T.O.P is slither about, rub up against him and make out with him. She has no will or thoughts of her own, she never speaks nor is her face ever clearly seen and because she is wearing all white while standing against a completely white background, the woman not only becomes just one of the many objects in the room but she also serves as part of T.O.P.’s backdrop. The woman is also physically treated as an object (and violently so) as there is an instance where T.O.P. actually grabs the woman’s hand by the tip of his gloved fingers (in apparent disgust and disdain) and then grabs her by the throat. This scene of violence is later continued when T.O.P. is shown wandering the streets with blood on his face, shirt and hands.
It is not completely clear why T.O.P is covered in blood, but it can only be assumed that this is meant to indicate that he had either beaten or killed the woman. This, to say the least, is disturbing. This, the objectification of the woman and the scene of domestic violence, also appears to be purposeful as there are lyrics that state: It’s a cycle of girls and mistakes Love them for one night And hate them when morning comes Can’t own up to it Because of my selfish pleasure
So based on these translated lyrics, it is to be believed that at least part of the reason that the woman is objectified and sexualized is because the director/creative director/band is trying to convey that this man only sees women as something to be used and that this objectification of and violent treatment towards women it what makes him a “loser.” This scene, nonetheless, is disappointing if not downright insulting.
Big Bang’s attempt on making social commentary about the objectification of and violence towards women is odd, firstly, because this important and serious topic is completely out of place in the MV. The rest of the content in the MV, for example, is rather benign with Seungri being cheated on, Taeyang jumping rooftops and G-Dragon destroying an apartment. The only scene that comes close to the darkness of the domestic violence scene is when Daesung himself is a victim of violence and is beaten by a group of men. However, even as serious as Daesung’s scene is, there is still something about the domestic violence scene that makes it feel more frightening and “next level.” Perhaps this is because the woman is never seen being beaten so it can only be left to the imagination as to what has happened to her or maybe it is because of how incredibly casually it is insinuated that she has been beaten/murdered. The scene is so blasé, after all, that it is almost as if this scene was as an afterthought with no one quite realizing what a serious topic they were depicting. To have such a topic like domestic violence, which 35% of women worldwide experience, handled so seemingly flippantly is off-putting at best and disappointing, insulting and horrifying at worst. Furthermore, Big Bang’s attempt at making social commentary on the objectification of and violence towards women is both funny and ironic (and is effectively negated) as when this video for “Loser” was released, “Bae Bae,” which blatantly sexualizes and objectifies women just for the sake of objectification (i.e., women aren’t sexualized and objectified in this song and MV because the band is trying to make social commentary), was also released.

"Bae Bae"

“Bae Bae” is a song that is about the attractiveness of a woman and how her beauty arouses men and how she shouldn’t age as this will “diminish her beauty.” In other words, the song idolizes and places women on a pedestal (e.g., one lyric questions whether a woman is human or an angel) and implies that a woman’s most important quality is looking good; that a woman can only be attractive at a certain age and that women should look good for the sake of men. The content and the theme of the song are obviously troubling, and the song only becomes worse in the actual MV for “Bae Bae” where there are two different prominent scenes where women are sexualized and objectified.
The first prominent scene where women are sexualized and objectified occurs in the opening of “Bae Bae.” In this first scene, G-Dragon runs around groping and rubbing up against lingerie clad, female mannequins while rapping:​ I’M IN LOVE I’m blind with love babe No pants on with a white shirt babe Are you a human or an angel? Oh Jesus babe You’re dazzling babe Sunglass babe My mind is so out of it I’m possessed by you Blood is rushing to that one place again This unrealistic idealization and sexualization of women and comparison of women to plastic dolls sets the tone for the rest of the video. White women, for example, are toted around, used as props and sexualized throughout “Bae Bae” and this theme becomes especially noticeable (and problematic) around the minute mark of “Bae Bae” where the second most prominent scene of objectification occurs.​
Around 1:00, T.O.P struts down a tunnel made of bright purple and yellow flowers (which have a faintly yonic vibe) and raps:​ Your eyes are pretty like a deer My princess When you laugh at me it’s so chic Are you crazy? You’re a natural beauty, so unique, so unique My perfect dear Be my muse We’re so comfortable together I’m gaining so much weight My body wraps around yours so perfectly You’re forever 25 to me Won’t ever change
At one point while rapping, T.O.P holds a syringe full of a milky white substance and squirts the liquid near a White woman’s face. The woman, in response to this, has a look of ecstasy and joy on her face, and she occasionally shoots a “come hither” look towards T.O.P as flowers burst all around her. And what do any of these factors (i.e., the syringe full of a milky white fluid, the woman’s orgasmic expressions and the exploding flowers) have to do with being “a natural beauty” and a “muse?” Nothing, really, except for the apparent fetishization and sexualization of a very narrowly defined concept of beauty.​
The syringe scene is clearly a metaphorical cum scene. This, in itself, is strange since ejaculating on a woman’s face has absolutely nothing to do with what he is rapping about (unless the English translation of the Korean lyrics are extremely off) so it can only be assumed that this scene is meant to indicate that he is so aroused by the beauty of White women that he can’t help but to ejaculate on the very beauty that he covets. This is problematic on several levels...
20 comments
I disagree with the part about TOP in Loser. Isn't it just TOP's thing? He feels more comfortable with being covered from head to toe. Didn't he kill the girl in the video (for touching his furniture 😂 jk)? This is just my opinion... I don't know about Bae Bae because I don't listen to it as often. Lol
2 years ago·Reply
I'm going to use some points from each person who already commented. (So no plagiarism here haha) I read every word of this article, and I have to say it seems very one-sided, and not very in depth regarding anything else Big Bang related. They focused on only two videos, while I could easily see them putting GDs part in Bang Bang Bang under fire very easily (the part with the woman on a chain, that kind of looked like a leash). But that's beside the point. When I was reading the part about Loser, I was feeling like I was in an English class. Whoever wrote this emphasized a lot about the white bikini, making more out of it than there should be (much like the cliche example of how people take authors' words too indirectly in novels -- think of the "the curtains are blue" 'paradox'). Also, TOP always wears a lot of clothing, he doesn't like to be exposed at all, which is why he is covered head to toe, not because of falsely made up analogies to "owning women". I mean heck, he jumped into a pool fully clothed in the WL2P video. I also feel like whoever wrote this missed the idea (and the rest of the video for that matter) of Loser. It's supposed to be about how 5 guys screwed up some relation with a woman, hence the fact that they all end up alone at the end of the video. That alone (I believe) should disprove the notion that women are unnecessarily objectified in this video. As far as the Bae Bae video is concerned... I'll give the author more slack. It is a rather risqué video, and the lyrics from TOP's part don't exactly correlate perfectly to the video. The whole premise that "sex sells" is alive everywhere, not just in America, and this is a pretty good example of that. The lyrics to Bae Bae are more "elegant" if you will than the video portrays them to be (except maybe GDs reference to his blood). They just used something to make the video more interesting. And the author also forgot to mention anyone else's lyrics, and only focused on the negative, while Seungri's for example says how the woman is a beautiful flower, and he doesn't want her to fly away. While I would agree that there must be a better way to express TOP's lyrics than with a syringe "cumshot," it's never Big Bang's intentions to objectify women in any way. Not to mention that they're good friends with other female groups like 2ne1, and have female friends from movies/shows they've each done. And something else that irks me is why did this come up all the sudden? I can guarantee you that there are MUCH WORSE things being said and depicted by American artists, especially rappers, but this person focuses on one Korean Band's two songs (that aren't even as bad as they are made out to be).
2 years ago·Reply
If you truly understand BigBang then it's easy to see that the would never purposely objectify women. It is also understandable why others would think that bae bae and loser are insulting women. I'm sure this is just a huge misunderstanding, and truthfully even without the lyrics you could kinda tell what T.O.P was trying to say in Bae Bae xD. I'm not saying that I accept their behavior, but I'm just saying that I wouldn't feel the need to persecute them for such actions so harshly. Please do not take this as favoritism because I would speak up like this for any group that has a background such as BigBang's that was stuck in this situation
2 years ago·Reply
I did not realize that was so long!!! I'm a debater, and once I start writing, it's hard to stop. It looks like an essay. Sorry about that. 😂😱
2 years ago·Reply
Hey now, no reason to swear at each other!! She's just sharing the article and looking for opinions after all ^^ @JessicaChaney Anyways, I think the point of this whole analysis wasn't to say that Loser isnt about true stories or that Bae Bae isnt a good song lyrically, but that the style of representation chosen by the creation company, director, etc. could have been done more wisely in a way that represented the songs without unnecessary objectification of women.
2 years ago·Reply
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